Second ‘Avengers’ movie sets up the third

Second ‘Avengers’ movie sets up the third

‘Avengers: The Age of Ultron’

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth

Directed by: Joss Whedon

Rated: PG-13


It should surprise no one that in its opening weekend this movie made box office history as the second highest grossing film of all time, the first being the 2012 “Avengers” movie. With all it had going for it, including a first-class franchise pedigree and a full returning cast why didn’t this movie exceed predictions? Well blame it on a little boxing match that happened last Saturday night.

It seems Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao succeeded in landing a TKO on “Age of Ultron” when many stayed home to watch the match on pay-per-view. In some demographics in certain markets, movie business was off as much as 50 percent. That glancing blow won’t affect this movie in the long run because the Avengers has a huge fan base, and “Ultron” has been heavily hyped. Expect strong box office returns in its second weekend now that there’s no real competition.

This episode of our crime fighters begins with a raid on a Hydra stronghold where some weird experiments are going on. Everyone is now fully integrated and working together — Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). You get the feeling they are weary of these exhausting missions that require them to focus and use all their collective superpowers, but that’s the job, as Hawkeye says with a heavy sigh at one point.

This mission takes a turn when two Russian twins with powers honed in Hydra’s laboratory give the team an unexpected jolt. Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is lightening fast with superhuman strength while his sister the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) is possessed with telepathic powers that play wicked tricks on the minds of our heroes.

Back at Avenger headquarters, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner discover that Ultron, the A.I. system Tony invented as an intergalactic peacekeeping effort, has been morphed into an actual being (voiced by James Spader) with Hydra technology. He’s a twisted super-smart droid that wants to destroy Earth and everything living thing on it in order to start over again because, as it is, we’re not worth saving. Or so it seems, if you buy Joss Whedon’s script. This launches the team on another mission to track down Ultron and stop him, but they find it isn’t going to be easy.

What has always set the “Avengers” movies apart from other superhero franchises is that the scripts were smarter. This one is no different in that it has humor, poignancy and — what audiences want — a lot of action. So much action that I’m surprised I didn’t hear Iron Man complain of metal fatigue. What Whedon, who also directed this, has done is give Marvel fans another whiz-bang summer blockbuster where the plot is as labyrinthian as an English knot garden, and special effects are the currency of the realm. But now in its second outing with all the Avengers on board, it’s already starting to feel a little been there, done that.

There is not much to debate. You either love this kind of stuff or you don’t. Those that do drove the $191 million earnings last weekend and worldwide the movie made over $400 million — in three days. That’s why before you leave the theater the next Avenger adventure is set up in a little teaser embedded in the credits. I can hint it is a continuation of this story. Two words: magic stones.

If you love these movies, you know not to leave your seat after the last scene and, yes, if you’re wondering, Stan Lee does have a great cameo. No surprise there. As the grand daddy of the entire Marvel empire, he can do anything he wants. 

Honestly, what really captured my attention was the trailer for “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” the Guy Ritchie project starring Henry Cavill (“Superman”) as Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer (“The Lone Ranger”) as Ilya Kuryakin premiering in August. I’ll definitely be ready for something more than superheroes by then.